BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) — Twice a day for over a week, a group from the Buckeye State tee off at Bartow Golf Course.
It’s something they have done every March for 36 years.
“It’s the tradition. We always come here,” said David Farley from Lima, Ohio.
Terry Dunn, also from Lima, was one of the originals.
“We had a friend that was renting a home down here. He came through town and he told us about this place. Four of us came down here,” said Dunn.
That four has grown to 40 this year. One year there were 52 golfers.
Many are current or retired workers from Ford but have expanded to include other professions.
Even with more oceanfront, tourist-friendly destinations across Florida, Bartow has them coming back every year.
“The people are friendly. The course is nice. The management is good. We just love it,” said Dunn. “We get a lot of questions about, where’s Bartow? Sometimes we don’t want to tell them but it’s a great place.”
Chris Banks, the golf pro at the course, estimates the group brings tens of thousands of dollars into the city-owned golf course and the surrounding area every March.
The golf course provides breakfast and lunch to the golfers every day.
Banks said it requires a lot of planning to make it all go smoothly.
“We talk at least once a month as it gets closer. We talk about it every week. We really prepare for it. We know it’s coming. All the new employees, we try to prepare them for what’s gonna come,” he said.
A few years ago, the Ohio group began giving the golf course plaques to commemorate the tradition, with an ode to “Ohio boys” who have passed away.
“Forever with us in spirit,” reads that plaque.
The group plays golf twice a day, competes in a tournament and spends time in the sun together at the tail end of a cold winter up north.
“My favorite thing about the trip is when we first get here and I get to get my golf clubs out for the first time. My second favorite is when I put the golf clubs for the last time and I’m going home,” said Farley.